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Sigurd Lewerentz
Architect of Death and Life

30 April 2021 - 6 February 2022

Sigurd Lewerentz (1885–1975) is one of architectural history’s most revered, and most mythologised architects. 'Sigurd Lewerentz: Architect of Death and Life' will be the first ever comprehensive exhibition of the life and work of the Swedish architect, drawing on ArkDes’ unique and complete collection of his drawings, personal archive and library. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the complete works of an architect who is perhaps even more influential today than he was in his own time.

It is Lewerentz’s late churches that have gripped the imagination of architects across the world, in particular the powerful, brick structures of St Mark’s in Björkhagen, Stockholm and St Peter’s in Klippan. These two profound works, completed in the 1950s and 60s, were famous in their time and remain spellbinding today. But the Lewerentz of these churches was an old man, and it was this lone, taciturn genius, with black overcoat and cigar in hand, that became the figure familiar to architectural history.

Four years of new research by ArkDes curator Johan Örn reveals a completely new picture of Lewerentz, moving away from the cliché of the uncompromising, lone maestro, and painting a picture of an artist constantly in tune with and adapting to his time, always collaborating and with a restless curiosity about the modern metropolis and its possibilities.

The exhibition displays the architect’s creative world: his early, lesser known designs for shops and commercial interiors; the landscape and chapel at the Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm (now a UNESCO world heritage site); graphic design and architecture for the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930; industrial design for his manufacturing company IDESTA; and the built masterpieces of Malmö Eastern Cemetery, the Riksförsäkringsanstalten office building in Stockholm, Malmö Opera, Villa Edstrand in Falsterbo, and the two great churches. His production was wide and includes workers’ housing, villas, furniture, wallpapers, tombstones, city plans, factories, religious buildings, advertising, modern office buildings, hotels and shops.

ArkDes will produce a landmark new book in connection with the exhibition, which will be the first ever published with full access to Lewerentz’s archive. Designed by award-winning graphic designer Malmsten Hellberg, it will contain 700 pages of drawings, photographs and models, plus excerpts from Lewerentz’s personal archive and library.

Curators: Kieran Long, Director; Johan Örn, Curator of the Collections
Exhibition Producer: Lena Landerberg, Head of Exhibition Production
Exhibition Design: Caruso St. John Architects
Graphic Design:
Malmsten Hellberg

Images from the exhibition


Proposal for the extension of the PUB department store, pencil and watercolor on trace, ca. 1932.

Proposal for the extension of the PUB department store, pencil and watercolor on trace, ca. 1932.

Social Security Institute, Stockholm, oval courtyard. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman.

Social Security Institute, Stockholm, oval courtyard. Photo: Åke E:son Lindman.

Resurrection Chapel, Enskede, Stockholm, impossible perspective, ink on trace, ca. 1924.

Resurrection Chapel, Enskede, Stockholm, impossible perspective, ink on trace, ca. 1924.

Portrait of Sigurd Lewerentz, 1974. Photo: Karl-Erik Olsson.

Portrait of Sigurd Lewerentz, 1974. Photo: Karl-Erik Olsson.

St. Marks Church, Björkhagen, Stockholm, 1960. Photo: Pål-Nils Nilsson.

St. Marks Church, Björkhagen, Stockholm, 1960. Photo: Pål-Nils Nilsson.

Sigurd Lewerentz's proposal for a restaurant at Sturegatan, 1930. Illustration: Collegaue Anders Hedberg.

Sigurd Lewerentz's proposal for a restaurant at Sturegatan, 1930. Illustration: Collegaue Anders Hedberg.

More images

Read more about the exhibition

It is Lewerentz’s late churches that have gripped the imagination of architects across the world, in particular the powerful, brick structures of St Mark’s in Björkhagen, Stockholm and St Peter’s in Klippan. These two profound works, completed in the 1950s and 60s, were famous in their time and remain spellbinding today. But the Lewerentz of these churches was an old man, and it was this lone, taciturn genius, with black overcoat and cigar in hand, that became the figure familiar to architectural history.

Four years of new research by ArkDes curator Johan Örn reveals a completely new picture of Lewerentz, moving away from the cliché of the uncompromising, lone maestro, and painting a picture of an artist constantly in tune with and adapting to his time, always collaborating and with a restless curiosity about the modern metropolis and its possibilities.

The exhibition displays the architect’s creative world: his early, lesser known designs for shops and commercial interiors; the landscape and chapel at the Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm (now a UNESCO world heritage site); graphic design and architecture for the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930; industrial design for his manufacturing company IDESTA; and the built masterpieces of Malmö Eastern Cemetery, the Riksförsäkringsanstalten office building in Stockholm, Malmö Opera, Villa Edstrand in Falsterbo, and the two great churches. His production was wide and includes workers’ housing, villas, furniture, wallpapers, tombstones, city plans, factories, religious buildings, advertising, modern office buildings, hotels and shops.

ArkDes will produce a landmark new book in connection with the exhibition, which will be the first ever published with full access to Lewerentz’s archive. Designed by award-winning graphic designer Malmsten Hellberg, it will contain 700 pages of drawings, photographs and models, plus excerpts from Lewerentz’s personal archive and library.

Curators: Kieran Long, Director; Johan Örn, Curator of the Collections
Exhibition Producer: Lena Landerberg, Head of Exhibition Production
Exhibition Design: Caruso St. John Architects
Graphic Design:
Malmsten Hellberg